Alternatives to New EVs Grow
Driving an electric vehicle (EV) is one thing you can do to lower your carbon footprint and help fight global warming and climate change. But electric cars start at a higher price than gasoline-powered ones, so what if you’re on a tight budget?
The answer is to find a used EV. And in my community of Castro Valley, California, there’s a dealer that specializes in them—Rose Motorcars. I had a chat with Derek Dorotheo, 35, who calls himself a “car matchmaker,” and is nothing like a stereotypical pushy car salesman.
Rose Motorcars was founded by Lyle Dizon and his two high-school friends, David Florence and Leo Beas. The company started eight years ago over the hill in San Ramon, and wasn’t focused on electric cars. However, they found a niche, and they now stock quantities of affordable EVs in their Castro Valley location, a former beauty school. Rose is the name of Dizon’s mother.
The cars I saw in their lot included a line of brightly-colored Fiat 500e’s (their most popular item) and Chevrolet Sparks, sporty Volkswagen e-Golfs, a few tiny Smart EVs, a pristine white Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a boxy Kia Soul EV, a bright blue Mercedes-Benz B-Class, and in the small showroom, a couple of shiny Teslas.
Where Do the Cars Come From?
Rose acquires its cars mostly from auto auctions, but they also work with finance companies and wholesale partners on off-lease vehicles. They can buy directly at auction for a customer. They sell to individuals and also can ship a truckload of cars to a dealer elsewhere in the country who is seeking EVs.
Taking an online stroll through the current inventory, sorted by price, you’ll see four high-end Teslas, followed by a 2017 Chevrolet Volt at $25,888. Then come the VW e-Golfs at $15,000 and a Nissan Leaf at $11,950. After that, the Sparks and Fiats come in under $10,000. There are lots of choices between $7,000 and $9,000. And these are inspected, 2015 models in clean condition with 20-25,000 miles or less (with a few outliers). With the price of a new Fiat 500e starting at $32,995 before federal and state rebates and tax breaks, this is a huge difference. Since electric cars are simpler and require little maintenance, the cost of running them is lower, too.
Granted, a Fiat 500e with its 84 miles of range is not going to cut it for a family of 5 or road trips out of town, but for the daily commute, it’s ideal. I know, because I drove a 2016 Fiat 500e for three months and it was perfect.
It’s Not Your Typical Car Dealership
Rose Motorcars is a no hassle, no haggle dealership that wants you to be happy. For Castro Valley residents, they offer 48-hour test drives, so you can see what the car is like to live with. You could grab it one day and try a run to work and back or do your weekend errands. While it’s not large, a little 500e or Spark hatchback would do fine for a run to Costco.
You can also set up a FaceTime or Skype call to look at cars and potentially buy one from home (Rose will ship it to you). They offer financing and take trade-ins, electric or not. In fact, they had a rare Pontiac Aztek in the back lot!
So, you don’t need to spend a lot to help reduce CO2 and enjoy the pleasures of electric motoring. Just visit Rose Motorcars—in person or online. They’re located at 2806 Castro Valley Blvd. and are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Find them at www.driverose.com.
[Editor’s Note: As the EV market grows, expect a lot Rose Motors-type operations to spring up around the country.]